Daily Egyptian

Walk-on freshman brings positive attitude to Saluki golf

By Thomas Donley

Freshman Jackie Biggs ended up in southern Illinois because her mother found a brochure for SIU and talked her into applying.

She was born in New Jersey and raised in Colorado.

“I was like, ‘Okay, whatever, I guess,’” Biggs said. “But then I visited and I really loved the campus.”

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In August, Biggs walked onto the Saluki women’s golf team because she thought head coach Alexis Mihelich gave her the best chance to improve her game.

Mihelich said she decided to add Biggs to the team because of her intelligence and personality.

“I knew that she was up for an academic scholarship, so I knew her grades were really good,” Mihelich said. “And with her demeanor, I knew she’d make a great teammate.”

Biggs was a first team All-Centennial League golfer her senior year at Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colo. That year, she tied for 31st in the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 5A state tournament, helping her team to a fifth-place finish.

In high school, Biggs was also involved in People to People, a peer ambassador program for students from fifth grade through college.

People to People takes students on trips to foreign countries to promote global awareness and prepare students for success. Biggs traveled to Europe with the organization the summer following her freshman year.

Her trip left her with memorable and valuable experiences, such as scaling the wall of a castle and living in an Irish family’s house for a week.

She did not get a chance to play golf at any of Europe’s top courses because People to People’s schedule for the trip did not allow time for golf.

But the trip helped prepare her for the start of college.

“It’s pretty similar,” Biggs said. “You go out and you don’t really know anyone at first, but then you begin to make really close relationships.”

Her trip to Europe also taught her to apply a positive attitude to the game of golf by providing a different way of looking at things, Biggs said.

“It definitely applied a different outlook,” Biggs said. “So instead of saying, ‘Dang, I got a bogey,’ it’s saying, ‘Well, it’s better than what I could’ve got.”

Both Mihelich and sophomore Brooke Cusumano said Biggs’s positive attitude contributes to her being such a good teammate and golfer.

“There’s not a mean bone in her body,” Cusumano said. “Even when she’s not playing very good, she always has a smile on her face.”

Cusumano said Biggs because does not like to talk about herself, so it takes a while to get to know her. However, Cusumano said Biggs is very interesting when she does open up.

“She loves video games,” Cusumano said. “And she’s really freaking good at them. Her secret talent should be that she’s a gamer.”

She will make her university debut Sunday at the Saluki Shootout at Hickory Ridge Golf Course. She will be part of SIU’s B team.

The team will use the Saluki Shootout as part of their qualifying rounds for its next tournament. A good showing could help Biggs crack the lineup.

Thomas can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @tdonleyDE

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